Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Crazy Business

Business owners have lost their minds.

Businesses exist to provide products and services that solve problems and fulfill needs. That's what businesses get paid for.

Businesses do not exist as place for people to foolishly donate their money. We have Creflo Dollar for that.

Let me offer a few examples.

I have been a Hertz President’s Circle member since 1979. I only got in because my boss knew someone at Hertz. It is the top level of service for Hertz best customers.

So I am puzzled as to why when I call Hertz my rate is about double the rates on their website. When I ask the nice lady why one of their best customers gets the highest rate, she says it’s because I requested it to be that way.

Oh.

That’s why I’ve become a fan of Enterprise. Cheap rates for everybody. Nice people who are well dressed, speak English, and will deliver your car to you.

I will soon have flown 3 million miles with American Airlines.

So I was a bit taken back today when I called in to Executive Platinum reservations to check on my flight. I asked if I could get an exit row seat. The nice lady said yes. But it would cost $15.

I laughed so hard I cried. I thought it was the best joke. She really got me.

Oops.

She apologized. She said it was someone’s idea to charge $15 because I was talking to a live human being as opposed to doing it online. Then she gave me the exit row seat, but the system then wouldn’t allow her to charge me. We were both relieved.

Dear friends at American, please reconsider this one. It annoys the customer and embarrasses your employees.

We used to have the best telephone system in the world. It was called AT&T.

Not to be confused with this thing that calls itself AT&T today.

It was a regulated monopoly. For good reason.

Dependable, working communications are important for security and safety.

Then some nabob in Washington decided this was working entirely too well, and forced AT&T to be broken up into 8 different companies back in 1984.

Great idea. Now they have all bought each other back and it is AT&T again. In name only. It's just great when the government gets into the business world.

In the meantime, we lost a great institution. The telephone operator.

Remember when the telephone company allowed you to actually talk to real people?

All you had to do was dial 0. Today, you are lucky if you can get to a real person in 9 voice prompts.

And try to understand their service packages. I just added some things and combined billing which in the end is supposed to save me some money. That’s what the nice direct mail piece told me.

Except it doesn’t. And I can’t get a live person on the phone to straighten it out.

And don’t forget directory assistance.

I am convinced they run this out of prisons. The people are rude, use made-up names, and connect you to the wrong number at least half the time. All for only $1.50.

Hard to imagine how a company whose mission is to help people communicate is so lousy at it themselves.

The next great business change won’t be about technology.

It will be about service. People want to do business with nice people. People that appreciate their business. People that solve their very real problems.

Out of this economic mess, we are going to see service oriented restaurants, banks, retailers, airlines, and maybe even phone companies.

New businesses, smaller businesses, local businesses, run by people who actually want to talk to you. And not steal your last nickel.

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